Even with many antifascists avoiding the narrow seafront pen, aerial shots show opposition outnumbered the 230 nationalists by at least 5 to 1. The policing operation was so big that Sussex plod are refusing to say how much it cost and yet, despite the largest number of police in Brighton since the Tory conferences of the eighties, all they could do is maintain a sterile area for the march itself. It was repeatedly made clear that antifascists controlled the streets elsewhere.
A splash of colour was added to the otherwise largely monochrome counter demo courtesy of the English Disco Lovers, an initally online attempt to appropriate and usurp the EDL brand. In the real world EDL activism consists of playing, singing and dancing to disco music and generally just having more fun than their racist namesakes. While I'm not convinced any of the fascists will be won over by disco, it definitely seems to annoy them that people are enjoying themselves in-spite of their presence.
'Pompey' Dave Smeeton – main organiser of MfE – was, as usual, leading his drunken rabble the few yards along the seafront they were allowed on. This year, along with his trademark flatcap and shades, Dave was sporting a South East Alliance (SEA) vest instead of his usual MfE branded gear. Whether Dave will now throw his lot in with friend and SEA leader Paul 'Pitt' Prodromou remains to be seen. Paul certainly views himself as the successor to Tommy Robinson (English Defence League leader and former far right posterboy) and was keen to prove himself in Brighton. Though his chosen method of leading a small band of nationalists towards their march pen via the counter protest was more embarrassing slapstick than heroic defeat. After a short burst of tuneless singing Paul accidentally smacked his son in the face with a stick, attacked a lone female counter protester, had his flag stolen and then hid behind cops when they eventually rescued him from a baying mob.
Once Paul had been shepherded to their heavily protected pen antifascists set about searching for other fascist who may have got lost on their way to the beach. A few had attempted to start a fight on St James Street (Brighton's gay heart and scene of far right homophobic abuse last year). Realising they'd bitten off more than they could chew the fash legged it into the Coral betting shop leaving two Evidence Gatherer cops to guard the door. With the smell of blood in the salty air antifa had it's tail up and a sustained attempt to breach the door was made as visibly terrified fascists peered out. While the EG just about managed to prevent a complete lynching before mounted backup arrived, they themselves received a fairly comprehensive repaint in the process.
Much had been made by the far right's keyboard army of Brighton's supposed mistake in resisting MfE in previous years. Apparently this time around we were going to be taught a lesson by thousands of hardcore nationalists. The fascist picket of a UAF meeting in the lead up to MfE 2013 responded to taunts about it's pathetic turnout by parroting the line that “3,000 proper football hooligans are coming to sort you out”. On the day two of those on the picket were discovered lurking on the edge of the Old Steine with some of this alleged hardcore. Unsurprisingly Liam Pinkham, Shane 'Diddyman' Calvert and a few other North West Infidel mouth-breathers attempt to infiltrate the 'reds' wasn't massively successful. Quickly identified and besieged by assorted locals and antifa the NWI was only saved by mounted police. Though even this wasn't enough to stop a number of missiles making contact, with at least a couple of chunks of masonry and an egg being bounced off their noggins. They then surrendered and fled, pursued by a number of queer lefty vegans.
At one point a number of local fash, including local Nazi celebrity Steve 'Sugar-Plum' Sands, launched an ill fated attack on some antifa. A frank exchange of views resulted in Steven's already rather worn visage receiving a long overdue boot. Unfortunately for Steve's face his day didn't get much better, as a mass brawl later in the day apparently saw his politics robustly challenged once again.
The Combined Ex-Forces (CxF – fascists who pretend they used to be soldiers) also made something of a cameo appearance. Having come all the way from Liverpool they obviously weren't content with a short walk on the seafront. About 10 of them were eventually allowed out at the end of the march and they attempted to sneak into town. They didn't make it far though, as people began to realise what they were upto they were quickly surrounded at the war memorial. Apparently unaware of the irony of a bunch of pretend soldiers disrespecting a memorial to real soldiers, CxFers swigged foreign lager and swore at locals until enough police arrived to escort to safety.
By around 6pm most of the major action was over (though small scuffles and occasional ding-dongs continued into the night) so antifascists retired to the Prince Albert for a well earned pint. Others headed up to Hollingbury custody suite to support arrestees.
Even the most deluded fascist monkey would struggle to see this years march as a victory. This was supposed to be the 'big one', an absolutely must attend event to teach the commies a lesson. While the hardcore travelled from across the country, there were almost as many groups as people. So far they've been uncharacteristically quiet, with some of the most optimistic claiming they stood their ground against superior numbers, photo and video evidence suggests otherwise.
Like a dog returning to its vomit, MfE are already saying they'll be back next year. In truth they are left with little option as the only alternative is officially surrendering. Same again next year then, only with even more of us and even less of them. Should be fun, but in the meantime we need to drive home the point, outnumber, outfox and outfight them everywhere.